EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — East Grand Rapids Public Schools is receiving a $750,000 grant from a foundation that supports the district to help meet students’ mental health needs.

Thanks to donors, the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation will provide mental health services in all five district schools serving kindergarten through 12th grade. The money will be spent over the first three years of the program, but the district plans to continue these services permanently.

Foundation Executive Director Amy Stuursma, a former teacher, says our children are our greatest resources.

“Not just children in East Grand Rapids, children in our country, children in our world,” Stuursma said at the WOOD TV8 Live Desk Monday morning. “It is our duty as adults to provide the support they need so they can be the absolute greatest contributors to our community, near and far. And if we can start by supporting them at a young age and giving them strategies and tactics and tools, we want to fill their toolbox so that they can be the best they can be.”

The foundation will fund a new coordinator of wellness to directly support high school students and K-8 social workers, an added part-time social worker at the middle school and materials, supplies and training for all K-12 staff and students.

Once the program is in place, the equivalent of six full-time employees will be dedicated to social work on a daily basis. The coordinator of wellness will provide interventions for high school students and provide leadership to K-12 staff in the social work field.

“We know that our teachers get asked … to do a lot beyond their curriculum,
Stuursma ais. “This is another layer for our staff. We want to make sure that the coordinator of wellness is there to support the staff learning and the teacher learning to ensure that these interventions are successful for students and available.”

A “big check” presentation is planned for 6 p.m. Monday at the school board meeting in Learning Commons at East Grand Rapids High School, 2211 Lake Drive.